Live albums used to be my shit. A lot of music critics would probably claim that there are only a handful of live albums that are actually good. Still, I’m always immediately excited to listen to a live album from one of my favorite bands. Especially if I haven’t gotten a chance to see them live in the first place.
Soundgarden is at least a top 5 band all time for me. I never got a chance to see them live before Chris Cornell took his own life in 2016. Thankfully for a fan like myself Soundgarden guitarist Kim Thayil seems to be in control of the Soundgarden vault and he claims there are still more releases to come from the band, even though they are inactive and likely will remain that way forever.
On February 17th, 2013, Soundgarden completed the final show for their US tour behind their new album King Animal. The show was held in LA and filmed for the PBS show Artists Den.
The album captures 29 tracks (really only 28 and then a separate track with all the feedback at the end of the show) and a 2 and a half hour concert. King Animal is definitely a focus of the show with almost the full album getting played. This is the first time we’ve heard these songs live on an official release and the band dust off some deep cuts like Blind Dogs, New Damage and 4th of July (a song Cornell claims is about an acid trip on a day somewhere near the American Independence Day). Obviously, the essentials like Black Hole Sun, Rusty Cage and Fell on Black Days get a play as well.
My enjoyment of this performance was going to rely heavily on how well Chris Cornell’s voice sounds. Its obviously not what it was, but Cornell doesn’t hide from high notes like many other vocalists his age do. He’s able to deliver the King Animal songs with ease because they a far more recent recording than the stuff that came when he was at his peak in the 90s.
The set has some holes. Not a single song from the band’s second album Louder Than Love gets a play. The albums closer Slaves & Bulldozers from 1991’s Badmotorfinger has a tease of In My Time of Dying in the middle of it. The has been recorded many times, by huge acts, most famously Led Zeppelin, and the refrain was also sang by Cornell at the band’s last show before his death in Detroit in 2016.
I ordered this album on colored vinyl as soon as I got a chance. Unfortunately for now the order’s been delayed, but I can enjoy the album on Apple Music for the meantime. Live From the Artists Den is available in several formats including black vinyl, colored vinyl, CD and Bluray video. I generally do splurge a bit more on Soundgarden stuff because they are one of my favorite bands.
During the promotion tour for the album Kim Thayil confirmed that he and the surviving members of the Soundgarden are hoping to release some of the demos that the band were working on at the time of Cornell’s death, but are struggling to get their hands on Cornell’s vocals for a potential release. I’m guessing his wife Vicky Cornell would rather see the demos made into a Chris Cornell solo album rather than a Soundgarden record. They also mentioned that they may team up again for another project, which I’d be open to as long as they don’t use the name Soundgarden.